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Friday, January 27, 2017

Name That Book




I believe that a compelling story needs an equally compelling title. 

Why?

Titles matter. Think about the titles of the most beloved books in literature and you will find that they are not only unique but also memorable. Same goes for the books on the best seller’s lists. Titles are, at times, what originally draw readers in.

Here are a list of my favorite book titles, even though they are not always my favorite books.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (One of my favorite books of all time)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Also a favorite)
The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L.James (I loathe this book but the title is memorable and catchy)

Of course there are many many more, but looking at these titles should give an idea of what I mean. These titles are catchy, unique, and memorable. Just think if these books had generic titles, would they have caught people’s eyes on bookshelves?

So, how does one come up with a badass title?

I actually find my inspiration in music and from my own writing. The story I am working on now is called “Reigniting Salem.” It came from a line in the story, it’s funny because its a minor character who says it, but it works on so many levels.

When it comes to using music, sometimes a line in the song becomes the title or it becomes the inspiration behind the story and weaves itself into it.

My one piece of advice for naming your story is to write it first. I never give a story a title until a good chunk of it is written. 

Do you have any advice for coming up with titles? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's Not Goodbye. It's See You Later.

Tomorrow marks the end of an era. Hate him or love him, Donald Trump will become the President of the United States. He doesn’t deserve it and sure as hell doesn’t have the temperament for it. He is not “my” president. Even saying that, I truly do wish him the best. Why? Because if he fails, America fails, and I refuse to fail.

BUT… Today is President Obama’s last full day as Commander-In-Chief and I want to honor him. He is the epitome of class and dignity. I will miss him, I swear, it feels like I’m losing a friend. So, in honor of “my” president, here are some of his best quotes:



"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."



"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent." 



"You can’t let your failures define you. You have to let your failures teach you."




“We are big and vast and diverse; a nation of people with different backgrounds and beliefs, different experiences and stories, but bound by our shared ideal that no matter who you are or what you look like, how you started off, or how and who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny.”


"My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won't stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days ... I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change -- but in yours."


Well, it's been a great ride President Obama. Thank you for all that you have done. I wish you nothing but the best.

(I'm not sure what next week's post will be about. Give me some ideas in the comments if you like!)









Saturday, January 14, 2017

Computer Woes


I would like to apologize if this post ends up making no sense. I took some strong cold medicine and it has made me pretty loopy.  I swear, it's been a long time since my body hurt this much. My face feels like someone has punched it and my throat is throbbing as if I swallowed gravel. I absolutely hate having a cold or whatever this is.

Anyway, this last week I had some computer woes. I turned on my computer on and it couldn't find the hard drive. Turns out my hard drive had been corrupted somehow. I couldn't tell you what happened, I never download files that aren't from the App Store or scanned for viruses, but the only thing I could do was erase it. I ended up losing a few Apps I paid for (still crying about Scrivener, I got it for half off with my NaNoWriMo goodies and now it's gone!) 

BUT I didn't lose any of my stories! Why? Because I back them up multiple ways. I email them to myself, I save them to the cloud, and I save them to my flash drive. Basically, if one back up fails, I always have more.

I'm sorry, but I think I am going to go pass out now.

I do want to leave you with two pieces of advice:
  1. Always save and back up everything.
  2. Don't blog while on cold medicine...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Going Beyond the Big Picture



After I do my cutting and deepening drafts I move on to actually editing. My personal editing style has two steps: macro and micro-editing.

The macro editing is still in the realm of the big picture and that is why I do it before I micro-edit.
The things I look for during this edit are:

  1. The story moves under its own power and that nothing about it feels forced. 
  2. The story is dramatic. No one wants to read a story where there is no conflict. We might say that we hate drama, but that only applies to our own lives, we want drama in our fiction.
  3. It is intimate and I don't mean it has sex in it (but it isn't a problem if there is.) What I do mean is that the reader gets to know and care about the characters. Good stories have characters that readers bond with and feel as if they really know.
  4. The story takes place in a special world. It doesn't have to be the magical wizarding world but it does need to feel exclusive while also being relatable.
  5. It is somewhat compressed. I am neither a minimalist or a maximalist, I fall somewhere in between. When I look for compression in a story I look for a day to read like a day and not like five days. Sometimes writers get ahead themselves and pack too much action into one day and that only works in stories that take place in a day and doesn't work well for series. (I also make sure each paragraph is no longer than eight sentences long, no one wants to read a wall of text.)
  6. The language is consciously crafted. The words being used to tell the story have to reflect it. I would never tell a story about the Battle of Culloden and have the characters speaking with New Yark accents and using American slang. 
  7. Lastly, the story is complete and satisfying.
If I have to fix anything from above in my story then I go back and do another cutting and deepening draft before I move on to micro-editing.

When I have looked for all of those things and feel satisfied with it then I start looking at the small stuff. I read each sentence out loud. Doing that allows me to find the missing words, the typos, the misused punctuation, and the grammar mistakes. I also have someone else read it as well. That someone doesn't have to be an English major, they're just a second set of eyes to help you catch things.

After editing the whole story, I save it and walk away from it for a while. I give it a couple of days and then at look at it again. I look for the same things, the same mistakes, and fix them.

I hope that helps you with any future editing.

I am not sure what next week's post will be about, but I'm sure I will come up with something. Have a lovely weekend!